Pixel Scroll 5/16/16 Pixel McScrollface

(1) AGENT OF TERRA? Brad Templeton confesses, “I was investigated by the feds for taking a picture of the sun”.

A week ago, a rather strange event took place. No, I’m not talking about just the Transit of Mercury in front of the sun on May 9, but an odd result of it.

That morning I was staying at the Westin Waterfront in Boston. I like astrophotography, and have shot several transits…

I did not have my top lenses with me but I decided to photograph it anyway with my small size Sony 210mm zoom and a welding glass I brought along. I shot the transit, holding the welding glass over the lens, with all mounted on my super-light “3 legged thing” portable tripod….

At 10am I got a frantic call from the organizer of the Exponential Manufacturing conference I would be speaking at the next day. “You need to talk to the FBI!” he declared. Did they want my advice on privacy and security? “No,” he said, “They saw you taking photos of the federal building with a tripod from your hotel window and want to talk to you.”

(2) SHINING EXAMPLE. Ann Leckie discovered someone’s named a nail polish after her.

There’s a Jemisin and Le Guin too. In fact, Nerdlacquer has named its products after all kinds of sf/f references, from Octarine to General Effing Leia.

(3) #STARWARSFORJJ. Not our JJ. An Irish kid — “Star Wars hero Mark Hamill stuns brave Northern Ireland cancer teen Jamie Harkin”

Star Wars hero Luke Skywalker was reduced to tears when he felt the remarkable force of a brave Northern Irish teen who has fought off cancer twice.

Actor Mark Hamill, who plays the famous Jedi Knight , met up with super fan Jamie Harkin.

The brave 17-year-old has raised more than £15,000 for other children battling the disease….

And on Monday the Derry lad joined his idol for breakfast during a break in filming for the latest instalment of the sci-fi saga in Donegal.

“People say that you should never meet your idols, because you build them up in your head so much that when you do meet them, they are a let down, and to that, I say, ‘you’re wrong’,” he said.

(4) SLACKEROO BANZAI. Birth. Movies. Death. is not enamored of reports that Kevin Smith might get to make a Buckaroo Banzai TV series.

Dear fans of The Adventure Of Buckaroo Banzai,

We regret to inform you that, on a recent episode of his podcast, Tusk director Kevin Smith revealed that he has been approached by MGM about possibly adapting The Adventures Of Buckaroo Bonzai for television.

In situations like these, it is natural to look for someone to blame for your grief. In this case, it appears that you have The CW’s The Flash to thank (or, rather, Smith’s recent episode of The Flash).

According to i09, the studio was impressed with Smith’s work on that single episode (the studio is apparently unaware of Tusk, Red State, the porch sequence from Tusk, the trailer for Yoga Hosers, Mallrats, Smith’s intention to make a movie called Moose Jaws, Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back, most of Dogma, Clerks 2, and Cop Out), so much so that they invited him over to pitch ideas….

(5) KALDON CLARION SCHOLARSHIP. SF author Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon passed away on April 20. A GoFundMe campaign has been started to create a Dr. Phil Memorial Scholarship for the Clarion workshop.

Janiece Murphy says, “Dr. Phil was a kind and generous man, and we’d like to memorialize him in a way that reflects these qualities.”

Murphy explains there are two ways to give money.

Folks can donate to the GoFundMe campaign at https://www.gofundme.com/drphilclarion , or they can donate directly to Clarion in Dr. Phil’s name at http://imagination.ucsd.edu/support.html . If they choose the latter, I would ask that they ensure the gift is designated for the Dr. Phil Clarion Scholarship, otherwise it will go to the general fund.

The GoFundMe appeal has raised $1,045 of its $5,000 goal as of this writing.

(6) WHAT’S IMPORTANT. Joe Sherry makes a great point in “My Favorite Stories Sometimes Win: A Nebula Love Story” at Nerds of a Feather.

First, it should be noted that two of my favorite stories from 2015 did, in fact, win Nebula Awards on Saturday night. I adored both Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti as well as Sarah Pinsker’s “Our Lady of the Open Road“. Both are wonderful stories and I am so happy both Okorafor and Pinsker were recognized as being excellent pieces of fiction…

This leads into my second thing I’d like to talk about. So much of the conversation about awards, whether it is the Nebula or the Hugo or the any other award you’d like to mention, is about the winner. Don’t get me wrong, of course I want my favorite stories to be recognized as the “best” novel or short story or whatever other category. Of course I do. I not only get emotionally invested in the story, I sometimes also become emotionally invested in the success of the author. Of course I want my favorite author to win all the awards and sell all the books. Of course I do.

That’s okay, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that just receiving a nomination is a significant recognition and is difficult enough to do in any given year, let alone a single time in a career. Publish your best work in the wrong year and it may still miss the ballot for any number of reasons. The recognition of a nomination is important, both for the work as well as for the field itself. The nomination says “yes, this story was excellent and we value it”….

(7) KAGAN BOOKS AVAILABLE. To capture a news item seen the other day in comments: Baen has republished several long-out-of-print Janet Kagan works as ebooks – Mirabile, Hellspark, and The Collected Kagan.

(8) SFWA ELECTIONS. SF Site News covered this weekend’s SFWA officer elections.

Last year saw some officers elected for two year terms and others elected for one year terms. This year, elections were only held for positions which were elected for one year terms last year. Erin M. Hartshorn, Justina Ireland, and Lawrence M. Schoen ran for two open Director-at-Large positions.

  • Vice President: M.C.A. Hogarth, re-elected, unopposed
  • CFO: Bud Sparhawk, re-elected, unopposed
  • Director at Large: Justina Ireland
  • Director at Large: Lawrence M. Schoen

(9) NEBULA DIVERSITY. K. Tempest Bradford reported on the Nebula Awards for NPR.

…This weekend’s winners reflect many different types of diversity beyond gender. Half are women of color, half are self-identified queer women – which mirrors the overall diversity of the ballot. 24 out of the 34 works nominated for the award were written by women from multiple racial and cultural backgrounds and a spectrum of sexual orientations. Of the 10 works by men, five of them were written by people of color and queer authors.

“The Nebula ballot is everything a ballot should be in this community,” said Brooke Bolander, author of the nominated story “And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead.” “It’s diverse, it’s wide-ranging, and it includes amazing stories by amazing authors.”

That’s an important point, given the ongoing conversation about diversity happening now in speculative fiction circles. The Hugos — the other major awards in the genre — are nominated by fans. Last year and again this year, Hugo nominations have been affected by the Sad and Rabid Puppies groups, who campaign against what they see as affirmative action-based nominating and voting in the Hugo and Nebula awards.

But “people want these stories,” says Alyssa Wong. She was the first Filipino author to be nominated for the Nebula award last year and is now the first to win it for her 2015 short story “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers.” Though she says she’s seen some Puppy-style criticism of her success, most of the reaction has been positive.

Readers “want to read stories from the points of view of people who have been historically been locked out of the genre,” Wong says. “‘Hungry Daughters’ is about a group of women who are all Asian-American and all from very different backgrounds, all of whom feel isolated in some way … But clearly this is not just Asian-American audiences who this is resonating with. I’m appreciative that people are reading more widely now. It means more opportunities — not just to be published, but to be seen.”

(10) SITE PICKED FOR 2019 COSTUME-CON. Over Mother’s Day weekend at Costume-Con 34 in Madison, WI, the site for Costume-Con 37 in 2019 was chosen.  It will be run under the auspices of MCFI with Aurora Celeste and Sharon Sbarsky as co-chairs. Social media still to come.

Costume-Con 37
Salem, MA
March 22-25, 2019
DoubleTree Boston North Shore
(actually Danvers, MA)
$129 Hotel Rate including Free WiFi, Free Parking, and Free Cookies!
$60 ($45 for those that voted) through at least December 31, 2016

(11) HUGO FIX. Damien Walter takes a math-lite approach to fighting slates, where Yobs = Ø

(12) DARLEY OBIT. Dick Darley, who directed Space Patrol, died April 21 at the age of 92. He also directed the first season of The Mickey Mouse Club.

Born in Los Angeles, he served as a fighter pilot in the United States Navy during World War II, then studied radio production and writing at USC. First working at San Diego’s KFMB, he later joined L.A.’s KECA where in 1950 he became director on the channel’s new series Space Patrol.

Set in the 30th century, the series followed the adventures of Commander-in-Chief Buzz Corry of the United Planets Space Patrol, who along with his sidekick Cadet Happy faced off against a rogues gallery of villains inspired by then-current Cold War. For its first 10 months, the show aired as 15 minute episodes Monday through Friday. In December, 1950, ABC commissioned a half hour version that ran on Saturdays, concurrently with the 15-minute version. Aimed at children, the show picked up a following of adult viewers and would go on to make history when it became the first regular live West Coast morning show to be beamed to the East Coast.

(13) A THREAT TO DEMOCRACY. Norman Spinrad has some strong opinions about Facebook.

Well my attempt to split my so-called Facebook “Timeline” into several different forums has been a dismal failure. Didn’t work, and more recent news (and I mean real news, not Facebook’s so-called “News Feed”) about Facebook begins not only to explain why, but begins to illuminate far larger issues about what Facebook is doing and trying to do.

Facebook has been accused of using both secret algorithms and human “editors” to control and even censor its so-called News Feed and “Trending topics” feed to suit the political agenda of Mark Zuckerberg &Co. But not to worry, Zuckerberg himself has appointed a committee to investigate.

Facebook had generously offered to finance free Internet service to third world countries, notably India. Well not exactly. The Facebook “free Internet service” would only connect to web sites approved and chosen by Facebook. India at least being a sophisticated democracy said no thanks. And other so-called “developing countries” have likewise gotten the point.

The point being that Facebook is becoming a threat to democracy itself, nowhere more so than in the United States, where a majority of people are getting their “news” from Facebook already and Facebook is expanding the process exponentially, as witness how it has weaseled itself into most of the televised presidential primary debates and now is funneling selected news stories from legitimate journalistic news channels through “News Feed” and “Trending” to far larger demographics than they can possibly reach by themselves.

And now it has been revealed that Facebook is in effect filtering and editing these feeds according Mark Zuckerberg’s political agenda. But not to worry, Zuckerberg has appointed a committee of his own minions to investigate himself.

Why is this a threat to democracy? Because it is already a huge threat to professional and politically neutral journalism itself, the commons cornerstone of any democracy….

(14) PROTECTION OR THEATRE? Recently the Society for Promotion of Japanese Animation, which runs Anime Expo in Los Angeles, announced a new Youth Protection program that requires all employees, volunteers, vendors and panelists to submit to a criminal background check and take online courses. Christopher Macdonald argues in an Anime News Network editorial that “The SPJA Needs to Change Its Youth Protection Policy”.

On the surface the new policy seems like a great idea. Who isn’t in favor of protecting children from predators? This policy isn’t unwarranted either, as with every similarly large event, bad things happen… and have happened. Unfortunately the SPJA’s new policy has many unintended consequences. Here are but a few:

  • Cost: It isn’t entirely clear who has to pay for the background checks, but these checks could be very expensive for people who have to pay for them. While a typical background checks costs as little as $50, the actual price can be prohibitively expensive for some vendors. For example, some background checks cost an extra $50 for every country a subject has visited in the past 5 years, and an extra $200 if they have lived outside the USA. With those prices, my background check would cost over $1,000 (note: AX has stated on Twitter “No artist, volunteer, guest, staff is being asked to pay for own bg check,“ however it seems that vendors and exhibitors do have to pay for the background checks).
  • Privacy & Security: The new SPJA policy requires that all vendors register with their real names & info. Many people in our industry, particularly professional and semi-professional cosplayers, have problems with stalkers. They do not want to be forced to wear badges with their real names, and they do not want their home address in the SPJA’s database. It may even be illegal to force employees of California based vendors to undergo background checks. There is a very limited number of cases in which an employer can mandate a background check, and this is not one of those cases. Therefore, it may be illegal for companies like Aniplex of America, Bandai, Crunchyroll, NIS America and Viz Media to ask their employees to undergo the background check.
  • Good People will fail the background check: I won’t go into too much detail about this here, there is plenty of information online about it, but many people often have significant trouble with background checks. Here are but a few of the reasons you can fail a background check: a name change, a minor violent arrest (got into a fight in a bar back in your college days), visiting an “undesirable” country (have you been to Iran or Cuba? I have), sharing your name with an actual criminal, etc…
  • It’s Insulting: Picture this, “Hi, you’re one of the top manga artists in Japan, and we’d really like to have you as a guest of honor at our show, but first we need to make sure you aren’t a child molester.” This is straight up offensive; you should expect that people will be insulted by this. And they are; I can say with absolute certainty that some of AX’s potential guests have pulled out because of this, and in at least one case an artist is disturbed enough that it is having an effect on their work. Have you noticed that we’re less than 2 months out, and almost no guests of honor have been announced? Guest contracts are in limbo while they wait for this issue to be resolved. For some guests it is already too late for them to commit to the event, their schedules are made more than 2 months in advance.

(15) TESTING FOR HUMANITY. The Futility Closet blog describes a proposed replacement for the Turing Test.

The original test, in which a computer program tries to fool a human judge into thinking it’s human during a five-minute text-only conversation, has been criticized because the central task of devising a false identity is not part of intelligence, and because some conversations may require relatively little intelligent reasoning.

The new test would be based on so-called Winograd schemas, devised by Stanford computer scientist Terry Winograd in 1972. Here’s the classic example:

The city councilmen refused the demonstrators a permit because they [feared/advocated] violence.

If the word feared is used, to whom does they refer, the councilmen or the demonstrators? What if we change feared to advocated? You know the answers to these questions because you have a practical understanding of anxious councilmen. Computers find the task more difficult because it requires not only natural language processing and commonsense reasoning but a working knowledge of the real world….

In July 2014 Nuance Communications announced that it will sponsor an annual Winograd Schema Challenge, with a prize of $25,000 for the computer that best matches human performance. The first competition will be held at the 2016 International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, July 9-15 in New York City.

(16) SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED. George R.R. Martin weighs in on the EPH discussion with “All the King’s Horses…” at Not A Blog.

I can hear the proponents of EPH and 4/6 saying their reforms were never meant to be a cure all. Yes, I know that, I never believed otherwise, and I applaud your efforts to help. I just wish these reforms helped more. Neither EPH nor 4/6 is going to prevent us from having VD on the Best Editor shortlist from now until the heat death of the universe.

And I also know that there are now other proposals out there, proposals that call for three-stage voting, for negative votes and blackballing, for juries. Some of these cures, I fear, might be even worse than the disease. We have plenty of juried awards; we don’t need another. Three-stage voting, with fifteen semi-finalists that get boiled down to five finalists and one winner? Maybe, but that considerably increases the workload of the Hugo administrators, whose job is hard enough already… and I fear it would actually ratchet up campaigning, as friends and fans of those on the List of Fifteen rallied around their favorites to get them on the List of Five. And a blackball round, voting things off the ballot? Is that really a can of worms we want to open, in this present climate? That would dial the ugliness up to eleven, I fear… or higher.

Sadly, I don’t think there is an answer here. No magic bullet is going to fix this. And I fear that the people saying, “pretty soon the assholes will get bored and go away,” are being hopelessly naive. The assholes are having far too much fun.

(17) BABELFISH NOW REALITY? Here’s the pitch.

Although the Indiegogo did not reach its goal, Waverly Labs appeas to be going ahead with production — the preorder campaign is scheduled to launch May 25.

1. How much will it cost? Retail is expected to be $249-$299
2. How much is the early bird? Early bird will be first come first serve. A limited quantity will go for $129, then another round for $149, and then a few more Late Early Bird options for $179+. Signup here: www.waverlylabs.com/launch
3. When can I preorder the Pilot? The preorder campaign is scheduled to launch on May 25th. We will keep everyone updated via email. As long as you have signed up for the launch then you will be alerted.
4. When will they be delivered? We are releasing a translation app this summer for basic translation. This is included in your purchase. However, the earpieces require much more testing, manufacturing and production time. Therefore, we anticipate the earliest will be in late fall/early winter, although fulfilling all orders could take until next spring. Again, it is first come first serve.
5. What’s included? The full package includes the Pilot and secondary earpiece (2 earpieces total), 1 portable charger, and an accompanying app. The app is where the languages are downloaded for the earpiece.

The rest of the FAQ is here.

[Thanks to Rick Kovalcik, JJ, Will R., Mark-kitteh, Lola McCrary, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

223 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/16/16 Pixel McScrollface

  1. Laura Resnick said: “I don’t see how banning individuals or their companies can work. I don’t see how banning slates can fail to backfire. I think these are very bad suggestions.”

    Yeah, that’s basically my rationale behind a committee veto–there’s really no way to write an algorithm for “hinky ballot”, but every single one of us would know it if we saw one. 🙂

  2. 2) Man, I was really hoping that someone had put out some nerdy stains for my deck. That’d Be GREAT.

    @Nickpheas,

    Photographic a federal building can VERY MUCH be a thing. I would not recommend you go take pictures of the gate of any military base, or the piers of Sub Base New London (SUBASENLON!) or of certain buildings residing in Langley, VA or Odenton, MD.

    @Soon Lee,

    I REALLY wish people would stop spreading around the “Expanding the nomination didn’t do much”. That’s bull. If the nomination hadn’t expanded, we’d have seena much shittier ballot.

    @Scott Frazer,

    The thought that _THAT_ Godwin shows up to drop mics somewhat restores my faith in the internet. That Spinrad then completely fails to understand the point made…

    @Kip W,

    Some of the government buildings I’ve been in recently have been impeccably furnished in a mid century modern style that makes me want to take pictures to share with the wife. Alas, such is not to be.

    @Dann,

    If only there were other sources to get your news than Facebook. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

    .
    .
    On a random note, am I the only one who sometimes confuses Camestros Felapton with Hampus Eckerman?

  3. If Beale smeared himself in the face with dog poop, he would still scream that it was part of his victory. His opinions aren’t interesting.

    Agreed.

  4. Laura Resnick:

    “Focusing on banning VD makes no sense.”

    I agree on this. Focus should be on making the award troll safe. Whether it is Beale or some other troll is not interesting.

  5. Hugo reading update: Started novels on May 5 with Seveneves, Uprooted, Ancillary Mercy. Finished those, started Aeronaut’s Windlass today, 110 pages in. Fifth Season on deck. Mostly enjoyable but took forever to get through last part of Seveneves.

  6. Personally, I would not buy a supporting membership if I could only vote, not nominate. Nominating is more interesting.

  7. Interestingly enough, Kukuruyo’s “20 year old” version of Ms. Marvel caused his DeviantArt page to be suspended.

  8. alexdvl:

    “On a random note, am I the only one who sometimes confuses Camestros Felapton with Hampus Eckerman?”

    I wanted to be confused with Vincent Price. 🙁

  9. @Vincent Price

    You mean you aren’t Hampus Eckerman?!?

    Now I have to stop fan boi-ing!

    😛

  10. alexvdl on May 17, 2016 at 3:25 pm said:

    On a random note, am I the only one who sometimes confuses Camestros Felapton with Hampus Eckerman?

    Yes, and it was really only when I was halfway to Hampus’s house that I remembered I lived on a different continent.

  11. “Yes, and it was really only when I was halfway to Hampus’s house that I remembered I lived on a different continent.”

    Good, because you would have got lost, as I live in a lake which I have to clean every morning before I eat my handful of hot gravel.

  12. Hampus Eckerman on May 17, 2016 at 4:00 pm said:

    “Yes, and it was really only when I was halfway to Hampus’s house that I remembered I lived on a different continent.”

    Good, because you would have got lost, as I live in a lake which I have to clean every morning before I eat my handful of hot gravel.

    Really? I thought you lived in a spooky castle with Edward Scissorhands? I was SO lost.

  13. Well I feel better about myself, now. I think it was about six months ago that I finally realized Eckerman and Felapton are different people. I figured it was some moral failing on my part. I still have to double check the author to be sure, but Timothy has helped me a lot in differentiating.

    At least this confusion doesn’t reflect negatively on either of you.

  14. NickPheas: Contrariwise, I find the news feed in FB so utterly worthless that it doesn’t even occur to me that anyone else hasn’t just edited out of their perception filters.

    Joe H.: I have enough trouble trying to convince Facebook that yes, I do want to see all of my friends’ posts and yes, I do want to see them in strict chronological order.

    I have all of my Facebook Friends assigned to one of the groups I’ve created (Relatives, Hometowners, SF Geeks, etc).

    Whenever I want to see what people have been up to, I’ll click on an individual group to see the news feed for that group. Because there are fewer people in it than in my overall news feed, Facebook gives me more of their posts to fill up the feed. A subgroup of 20-30 people will show a lot of their posts.

    I also like doing it that way because it gives me news grouped by subject matter and shows me how people in a specific group are interacting on a given subject — say, SF authors and fans all commenting on the Nebulas at the same time.

  15. I think it was about six months ago that I finally realized Eckerman and Felapton are different people.

    I just changed my settings so that one of them is designated “Spock One”, and the other, “Spock Two”. It makes things much easier.

    …still haven’t figured out which one is the evil duplicate, though.

  16. Hampus Eckerman on May 17, 2016 at 4:00 pm said:
    …I live in a lake which I have to clean every morning before I eat my handful of hot gravel.

    HOT gravel ?!?
    You were lucky.

  17. Ohhhh we used to DREAM of livin’ in a corridor! Woulda’ been a palace to us. We used to live in an old water tank on a rubbish tip. We got woken up every morning by having a load of rotting fish dumped all over us! House!? Hmph

  18. The local news tonight said that the Illinois Department of Motor Vehicles will no longer issue permanent driver licenses from local offices, but instead a paper 45-day driving permit while you undergo a criminal background check before you will be issued your license from the state. This is being done to comply with the Federal Department of Selectively Applied Injustice “Real ID” act.

    Even thought it will be done through regulation instead of statute, it now appears that conviction of crime in Illinois will now result in revoking of driving permission in addition to any other penalties already prescribed by law.

    With regard to Anime Expo and the S.P.J.A., I notice they’re only requiring this of people who are not paying to get it or are coming to the expo as part of making a living. Cash customers are excepted from this, as they wouldn’t tolerate it, declining to be treated as if they’re criminals until they prove themselves innocent in order to watch cartoons.

  19. Re: no. 13, “how Facebook is ruining democracy…” That is a smoking hot take.

  20. rob_matic wrote:

    “Hey, where is everybody?”

    Getting criminal background checks.

  21. I’m so glad I’m still awake for this; absolutely pitch perfect, the lot of you.

    And now I should get some sleep, once I’ve stopped giggling…

  22. I’ve the policy linked above but I’m a bit unclear how these things work in the US. In other countries it would be a working with children check rather than a criminal background check (e.g. being convicted of fraud wouldn’t be relevant) its done centrally and by the individual and the result is a number attached to your details which you can give to an employer/organisation etc. All they see is that you are OK.
    Is this a different process? It sounds more general in the policy and all sounds like they’ll get more personal details. Or have I misunderstood?

  23. [13]
    Spinrad is correct that a lack of credible, fact-based journalism is a problem for a democracy, but that ship sailed a long time ago, mostly with the rise of 24-hour cable news networks. Fox is the worst by far, but they’re ALL horrible at journalism.

    Meanwhile, non-cable journalism sources have been dwindling steadily in number and quality, largely because real journalism is expensive and not terribly profitable. Watch the recently Oscar-winning movie Spotlight if you want to see a vivid example of what I’m talking about.

    Blame laissez-faire capitalism if you have to blame something.

    My surprise about the Facebook reveal was not that the news feed was biased, but the nature of the bias — I expected “biased in favor of trying to sell you something,” not, “biased against conservative news sources.” But The Young Pretender has suggested an alternate narrative for that — it might be a side-effect of eliminating obviously wackdoodle sources rather than anything driven by an explicit political aim.

    This is why I would quibble with

    @dann665 on May 17, 2016 at 2:04 pm said:

    I don’t see where we disagree.

    My only contention is that the NY Times is as unreliable a source as is Facebook as is The National Review as is The Wall Street Journal as is….

    This suggests that all news sources are equally unreliable, which is a different proposal from all news sources ought to be equally subject to skepticism and exterior fact-checking.

  24. I had to have some sort of check done when I worked as a temporary part-time church clerk last year. I’m pretty sure it was because the church in question is trying to make sure all employees are safe around children, whether or not they directly work with them. (The closest I came to working with kids was printing out and folding the Children’s Bulletins every week. Choosing the colors for the younger and older kids’ bulletins was a fraught decision, let me tell you!)

    I wasn’t given any number or details; all I know is that it must have come up clean, as I continued to be employed there until the regular church clerk came back from extended medical leave.

  25. That’s okay, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that just receiving a nomination is a significant recognition and is difficult enough to do in any given year, let alone a single time in a career… The recognition of a nomination is important, both for the work as well as for the field itself. The nomination says “yes, this story was excellent and we value it”….

    Hey, welcome to the future, Mister Sherry! Let me catch you up on some things.

  26. I just had a background check done (the first of two) as I am applying for a Global Entry pass for the US. It was surprisingly quick.

  27. (1) Agent of Terra?

    For a novel I wrote (unpublished as yet, although happy to share the details with anyone who can hook me up with an agent or editor) I went to the Sears Tower—excuse me, the Willis Tower—in Chicago to take some photos for the climactic final battle. I was quickly told by a very friendly but very firm security guard that pictures in the entrance lobby were not allowed.

    Many years ago my father-in-law was part of a tour group in Kenya (IIRC), and on a bus tour around the city they went past the U.S. embassy that had been bombed. Taking pictures, they were quickly pulled over for questioning on suspicion of being terrorists—after the fact. Fortunately, my father-in-law had a photocopy of his U.S. passport (the actual one was locked up in the hotel), and he and the others were soon released. But it was scary.

    These days folks get very jumpy about photos of any significant public structures.

  28. Regarding limiting nominating for the Hugos to attending WorldCon members, as someone who can only attend every couple of years when WorldCon is in Europe (and Loncon and Worldcon 75 are uncommonly close together) I don’t like this idea at all. Like Vasha, I find nominating a lot more intersting than voting, especially since the nomination phase allows me to nominate my actual favourites rather than vote for whatever got nominated. And why should honest nominators like me be punished for something the griefers did?

    If limiting the pool of nominators is deemed to be necessary, then maybe limiting nominations only to members (attending and supporting) of the WorldCon is question would be a better solution. Though I fear that plenty of griefers will still pony up 50 USD every year to nominate and vote.

    Three stage voting sounds like a decent proposal. Another solution I could see is finding a way to detect identical/nigh identical ballots and disqualify those ballots, if more than say 5 or 10 ballots (to account for families and friends groups with similar tastes – though even my Mom and I did not have 100% identical ballots) are identical/nigh identical. However, the works in question would not be disqualified, only the suspicious ballots. This means that slate hostages like e.g. Lois McMaster Bujold or Alastair Reynolds could still get nominated, if they have sufficient support among the wider electorate.

    For those who like trainwrecks, Brad Torgersen is having kittens puppies again and went onto another of his rants: https://bradrtorgersen.wordpress.com/2016/05/17/panel-how-to-protect-science-fiction-awards-from-bad-people/

  29. Cora Buhlert: For those who like trainwrecks, Brad Torgersen is having kittens puppies again and went onto another of his rants:

    Once someone who constantly needs to act out has completely lost his grip on reality, it isn’t a kindness to them or edifying for their readers to go and gawk.

  30. @Cora: It is hard to comprehend that something that poorly written could have been written by a professional author. BT really does have limited capabilities, doesn’t he?

    Also, taking poorly disguised potshots at authors like Martin and Scalzi who are much better writers than he is probably isn’t doing his career much good.

  31. told by a very friendly but very firm security guard that pictures in the entrance lobby were not allowed

    We had to talk with security before we could take our group holiday photo in the building lobby, in front of the building Christmas tree, where nothing else would really be visible. (It’s a 15-foot tree. At least.)

  32. Way back in the day I took a bunch of photos of a weird complex full of pipes, because I was working for a game company doing a stunt bike game ala Tony Hawk, and it looked like good reference for a level with lots of pipes for riding on.

    A month later and three states over–I had been on vacation–two of St. Paul’s finest showed up to ask why I was taking photos of a kerosene plant. It’s amazing how fast the word “video game” cleared things up. (And a kerosene plant! Who knew?)

  33. Cora Buhlert: For those who like trainwrecks, Brad Torgersen is having kittens  puppies again and went onto another of his rants

    Mike Glyer: Once someone who constantly needs to act out has completely lost his grip on reality, it isn’t a kindness to them or edifying for their readers to go and gawk.

    That’s not just a trainwreck. The bridge has blown up, and the train has gone completely over the edge and crashed at the bottom of a very deep chasm. 😐

  34. That’s not just a trainwreck. The bridge has blown up, and the train has gone completely over the edge and crashed at the bottom of a very deep chasm. 😐

    It’s like the last scene of Snowpiercer, only there isn’t even the sighting of a polar bear to give any hope for the future.

    Honestly, I felt embarrassed for the guy, and a little bit sorry for him.

  35. @Bonnie McDaniel: It’s like the last scene of Snowpiercer, only there isn’t even the sighting of a polar bear to give any hope for the future.
    I always assumed the last scene in Snowpiercer was followed by the bear eating the two survivors moments later, so not so different after all.

  36. Good to see Torgersen continuing his habit of measured, reasonable discourse that doesn’t descend to the level of primary-school name-calling.

  37. For some reason, I have one of Sandra Arminger’s favorite aphorisms echoing thru my head.

    Re nominating, I think that (1) we need to pass at least EPH, and perhaps 4 and 6 as well, this year — because even if they don’t work as well as we expected, they do have an effect. Not passing them would be cutting off our nose to spite our face. (2) For the future, I like DN. The problem that makes the current nominations process so vulnerable to gaming is the “long tail” phenomenon. DN has the effect of concentrating the support from the long tail into a much shorter list of nominees which already have some level of broad support. It becomes even more effective with the “vote for as many of these as you want” variation.

    After all, nominating five works means that you’re nominating the one you think should win and four that you believe shouldn’t.

    Where the fuck did THAT piece of BS come from? (I’m skimming.) NO. When you nominate 5 works, you’re saying that you would be okay with ANY of those 5 works winning. Yeah, maybe you have a personal preference, but if you don’t think something should win, you DON’T NOMINATE IT. What’s so hard to understand about that?

  38. @ McJulie: Right-wingers and Puppies have an important characteristic in common. If ANYTHING not approved by them appears on a list, that’s considered “bias against conservative sources”. The only way to avoid such accusations of bias is to be 100% biased against anything BUT their approved party line.

  39. Mike Glyer on May 17, 2016 at 8:14 pm said:

    Cora Buhlert: For those who like trainwrecks, Brad Torgersen is having kittens puppies again and went onto another of his rants:

    Once someone who constantly needs to act out has completely lost his grip on reality, it isn’t a kindness to them or edifying for their readers to go and gawk.

    Ouch

  40. Lee: I think that (1) we need to pass at least EPH, and perhaps 4 and 6 as well, this year — because even if they don’t work as well as we expected, they do have an effect.

    4/6 actually weakens EPH, rather than strengthening it. I don’t think that ratifying it is a good idea.

  41. Cora Buhlert on May 17, 2016 at 7:58 pm said:

    “If limiting the pool of nominators is deemed to be necessary, then maybe limiting nominations only to members (attending and supporting) of the WorldCon is question would be a better solution.”

    YES YES YES THIS!

    Kevin Standlee on May 17, 2016 at 8:04 am said:

    “OTOH, given how easy it is for a small group of Griefers to dominate the process relatively cheaply for them (~$50 every three years if they time their purchases correctly), maybe, just maybe, we should reduce the pool somewhat:”

    This has never sat well with me.
    As it stands right now for the purchase of one (1) supporting membership, a member is given the right to ***Salt The Field*** “nominate” for three (3) years, and vote one (1) year.

    In my opinion this should be addressed this year at the BM
    It is my opinion that nominating and voting privileges should be exclusive to the current Worldon’s Attending and Supporting members only.

    I find it ridiculous that an Attending and or Supporting member of this years Worldcon MAC 2 will have a say in what the ballot will look like at next years Worlcon in Helsinki, with the possibility of having no attentions what so ever of becoming Supporting and or Attending member of Helsinki’s Worldcon.

    The current system in my opinion disenfranchises Helsinki of its own autonomy.

    If I want to influence the ballot looks like next year I should be required to purchase at least a supporting membership.

    AT ITS CORE THIS IS THE MECHANISM THAT HAS ALLOWED THE HUGO NOMINATING BALLOT TO BE GAMED AT THE COST OF LESS THAN $17.00 A YEAR, FOR THE MINIONS OF VD.

  42. Sean Kirk: AT ITS CORE THIS IS THE MECHANISM THAT HAS ALLOWED THE HUGO NOMINATING BALLOT TO BE GAMED AT THE COST OF LESS THAN $17.00 A YEAR.

    If you think that it would have prevented the ballot from being gamed each year at the cost of ~$45 per year, then I think that you do not have a very good understanding of the people with whom you are dealing. $50 is peanuts to the people who spend that much every week or two on videogaming.

    And you would be eliminating far more genuine nominators than you would be eliminating griefers.

    Requiring an attending membership at ~$200 to nominate might — might — discourage some of the griefers. But again, you would be eliminating far more genuine nominators than you would be eliminating griefers.

  43. JJ on May 17, 2016 at 11:39 pm said:

    “If you think that it would have prevented the ballot from being gamed each year at the cost of ~$45 per year, then I think that you do not have a very good understanding of the people with whom you are dealing. $50 is peanuts to the people who spend that much every week or two on videogaming.”

    I agree to a certain extent, but I also think that it might thin VD’s herd by 10% to 30%. Its one thing to throw down $50 for three years of shit slinging fun, its another to have to throw down $50 every year to be a part of the shit slinging fun, because now those same three years are going to cost you $150 or there a bouts.

    But even before the slate years I felt that the extension of nominating rights weakened the autonomy of the next years Worldcon’s Hugo ballot.

    I think that if the current rule was not in place and every MAC 2 attending and supporting member were not simply given nominating rights, but had to at least purchase another supporting membership in order to nominate next year, that Helsinki’s Hugo ballot would be very different. The ballot would have a much stronger presence of Finnish authors, artist, and creators on it.

    But as it stands right now EVERY supporting and attending member of MAC 2 is going to dilute that ballot, and that’s is a shame, because it is my opinion that every Worldcon should be allowed to become its own thing with a ballot that exclusively represents it and its members.

    If I want my opinions and my tastes to potentially be a part of that ballot I should have to at least be a supporting member of Helsinki’s Worldcon next year.

  44. Sean Kirk: I also think that it might thin VD’s herd by 10% to 30%.

    And if it “thins” the genuine Worldcon nominator herd by 30% to 60%? You are cutting off Worldcon’s nose to spite Worldcon’s face.

    I suspect that, like me, you are in a position to afford an Attending Worldcon membership every year. A great many wonderful Worldcon fans do not have that luxury.

    I agree that there are things which should be done. I disagree that the things you’re suggesting will be effective.

  45. @alexvdl

    Not the puppies per se, but apparently there was a non-zero amount of griping and side-eyes when it was announced as a finalist – ie that it was inappropriate to chuck an entire series there, or that it was too weak/ inconsistent as a nominee.

  46. The best part of that was learning that the Ultimate Secret Unfair Advantage of the SMOFs is that they’re willing to attend business meetings. Oh, the cruelty of making people do that. The humanity.

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